Controversy is not new to Andhra Pradesh Transport Minister and state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana.
Botsa, who has been in the eye of the storm on earlier occasions for alleged mafia activities, does not seem to shy away from courting controversies. Now, he is accused of abusing his official position for the wedding of his daughter Anusha, a medico, in his native Vizianagaram on Friday night.
State Governor E S L Narasimhan, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy and several other ministers flew in a special chartered aircraft from Hyderabad while Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad [ Images ] and others came from New Delhi [ Images ] for the wedding.
All star hotels in Visakhapatnam [ Images ], which served as the base camp for the VVIP guests, were booked while a number of SUVs were "seized" by the transport authorities for the service of their boss.
Alleging that the minister has abused his official position for the wedding, former Union power secretary EAS Sarma wanted to know who had footed the bill.
"There is gross misuse of public authority as well as funds. Nearly 300 VIPs landed here. There were Union ministers, two governors, Parliamentarians and the entire state Cabinet. They call it official, but it is all private. And the taxi owners were forced to give up their vehicles," he said.
Sarma said he has written to the chief minister over the lavish conduct of the wedding.
"I have asked is it a democarcy or zamindari. I have even marked a copy of the letter to the governor of AP. When these (VIPs) people come here for the wedding, shouldn't they pay from their pockets," he said.
"They have not responded because they think they are not accountable to the public of this country. The VIPs are not very sensitive about it. They think they can misuse public funds any time," Sarma added.
Meanwhile, a transport official in Visakhapatnam, who was entrusted with the job, said, "When there are too many VVIPs, we obviously need vehicles. Hence we hired the vehicles as per the practice adopted even during normal VIP visits. In fact, the minister's family itself paid the charges for most of the vehicles."
However, taxi drivers say they have not been paid any money so far either by transport officials or the Botsa family.
"We were forced to cancel other bookings and be in service of the minister. We would have got Rs 3,000 a day on other bookings but here we may be paid Rs 1,800 only," some taxi drivers pointed out.
All "official" programmes, which some of the ministers were supposed to attend in Visakhapatnam, stood cancelled on Friday due to the tragic death of former Union Minister K Yerran Naidu.
Some of the ministers visited Nimmada village in Srikakulam district on Saturday morning to pay homage to Yerran Naidu after attending the wedding bash.
A top district official noted that they had to follow "protocol", even if it was a private function, as governors, the chief minister, Union ministers and state ministers were in attendance.
"Deployment of government staff was done as per protocol requirements. The security had to be obviously high because Vizianagaram falls in the Andhra-Odisha Border zone of the Maoists. We left nothing to chance," said the official, who did not wish to be quoted.